I just recently joined a Woman’s Life chapter out here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For our introduction and the beginning of the New Year, we all needed a word. Not just any word, but THE word for the year. What a great idea! It took time to do some real soul searching, and the word I chose for myself this year was balance. Perhaps because I’m a mother, or maybe just because I’m female, I tend to focus so much on being everything to everyone in my family, that often times I lose my own way. I tend to be the supporter, the cheerleader, and the enabler for everyone else’s dreams and directions for their life, so much so that there is little left for me. It sort of creeps in little by little. (Photo above is of our family many years ago. More current family photo below)
My youngest son Alex is dual enrolled for his senior year in high school, so he takes three classes in the morning at our local high school, and then takes a few classes at our local Grand Rapids Community College. Last semester, one of the classes he took at GRCC was Philosophy. That class was totally up his alley, he thoroughly enjoyed the class and loved his professor. He has also started to read Ayn Rand’s book, Atlas Shrugged. I would like to read the book as well someday, but the size is certainly intimidating. Anyhow, as many of you may know, Ayn Rand has her own philosophy, one that she calls Objectivism. Within that philosophy, she strongly believes in The Virtue of Selfishness. Certainly for me, and I think for most people, we see the word selfish as having a negative connotation. We see selfish as an excessive focus on ourselves to the exclusion or even detriment of others. I don’t believe that’s what she’s saying or suggesting at all. If you don’t recognize a value for your own interests and dreams for your own personal journey in life, then what do you really bring to the table to have a healthy and BALANCED relationship with others. It’s more about finding your own way while on this earth, and your own happiness. If we are not working toward our own dreams and goals in life, then will we ever truly feel happy and content. Maybe for some, the mere act of helping others over ones self IS what they cherish to do and give to this world. I believe we all have gifts, and those gifts are unique to each and every one of us, and to utilize those gifts to the fullest and to share them with the world is something that fills us deeply with a sense of joy and contentment.
I’m trying to be more selfish … it’s hard! Now that my youngest is an adult now and will soon be leaving the nest, it’s high time I take a long hard look at myself and where I would like my life to go personally. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for altruism. I do however believe that one can be both selfless as well as selfish. As a side note, I have to say that since starting to paint again and being more selfish in that personal endeavor of mine, I am much happier, and therefore find that when I am more selfless, I find more pleasure in that as well.
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” - Thomas Merton